So what did you think? We think Republican Meg Whitman seemed canned and a little stiff in her first debate with Democratic challenger Jerry Brown in their race for governor of the nation's most-populous state.

Brown joked (because of his time in office he said he has put in more work for less pension — “the best pension buy the state has ever seen”) and put the reporters and crowd at UC Davis at ease. Whitman seemed out of place. She even called Brown “governor” at one point. The debaters, in any case, did their job in defining the differences between the two:

Whitman attacked Brown as a tool of the very public employees' unions that have helped to increase pension benefits to unsustainable levels, which threaten to sink not only California's government but those of cities like Los Angeles.

Whitman said Brown's ascension to the governor's office (again) would represent a continuation of the status quo in a state that perpetually spends more than it takes in. She said “all the special interests and the unions” would be at the table with their hands out the minute he takes office.

Brown painted Whitman as a neophyte who's trying to buy the office for her own wealthy contributors. “I've been in the kitchen,” he said, “I know the heat.”

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